The Biggest Revelations From Dancing With the Devil, Demi Lovato's New YouTube Docuseries
Demi Lovato has never been shy to speak her mind, and when it comes to her own story, we can't imagine anyone telling it the same way she does. But in the 28-year-old's new four-part documentary, Dancing With the Devil, the singer takes transparency to a new level. The series comes after Lovato's 2018 documentary meant to capture her world tour was permanently shelved after her near-fatal drug overdose in July 2018. The singer, who revealed just a month earlier that she had relapsed after celebrating her sixth year of sobriety, was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home before being taken to the hospital. She spent almost two weeks there before undergoing treatment at a rehab facility and then a sober living facility. But that isn't the whole story.
In spring of 2020, almost two years after her overdose, Lovato, her friends, family, and team, began production on a new documentary to share the entire story — the good, bad, ugly, scary, and all. "I can't believe y'all are doing this," Sirah Mitchell, Lovato's best friend and former sober companion, said in the first episode. "This is lit, but OK!"
The main difference between the scrapped 2018 documentary and 2021's Dancing With the Devil? The level of honesty. "In that documentary, I was allowing the cameras to see the tip of the iceberg. I wasn't showing them what I was doing behind closed doors," Lovato explained. "I've had so much I've wanted to say over the last two years, of wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened . . . I crossed a line that I had never crossed in the world of addiction. It's interesting that it took me a quarantine to work on this trauma stuff. I'd never really taken the time to dig deep and do the work."
Keep reading for some of the biggest revelations from Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil.
- Lovato relapsed a month after celebrating six years of sobriety. While recalling a March 2018 concert featuring Kehlani and DJ Khaled, Lovato explained that it was following a photo shoot that she began to question her sobriety. She recalled wondering why she was sober, noting that she felt miserable. "I'm not happy. I have all this stuff that I'm dealing with," she said, recounting her thoughts at the time. "I picked up a bottle of red wine that night and it wasn't 30 minutes before I called someone who I knew had drugs on them. I'm surprised I didn't OD that night." The singer said she went on a "shopping spree" when reunited with her former drug dealer. Lovato revealed that she took drugs she hadn't done before, describing a binge in which she mixed meth with "molly, with coke, weed, alcohol, oxycontin. And that alone should've killed me."
- Lovato became addicted to heroin and hid her drug use from family and friends. As the singer's younger sister Madison De La Garza noted, Lovato is very good at hiding what she doesn't want people to know. Lovato told her circle that she wanted to explore drinking again to test her limits. Unbeknownst to them, just two weeks after her relapse, Lovato was "introduced" to heroin and crack cocaine. Sirah Mitchell, Lovato's best friend and former sober companion, recalled a moment she realized was a red flag in hindsight. She caught Lovato high in her bathroom during a game night, holding tin foil and smoking "something." But when she grabbed Lovato to talk to her, "she didn't even notice I was there." Lovato explains that it wasn't until a trip to Bali that she realized she'd become "physically dependent" on heroin, and that led to her writing the 2018 single "Sober."
- The night of her overdose, Lovato was with friends for a party. On July 23, 2018, Lovato was with friends celebrating the birthday of former choreographer Dani Vitale. When the party was over, Lovato invited people to her house for more fun. Vitale noted that Lovato served everyone La Croix, which made her feel safe that night. But when it was time for people to begin leaving, Lovato asked Vitale to stay, suggesting a sleepover. Vitale told the singer they could take a hike in the morning, but she notes in the documentary that she left feeling "weird," and wondering if she should have stayed the night. Lovato said she was going to sleep around 5:30 a.m., but "the reality was that I called one of my dealers over." The series reveals that Lovato's drug dealer gave her "what I assume now to be fentanyl by giving me 'aftermarket pills,'" and left her "for dead."
- The morning after her overdose, Lovato was minutes away from dying. The morning of July 24, 2018, Lovato's former assistant Jordan Jackson found the singer when she came to bring her to a doctor's appointment. Jackson found her unresponsive and quickly called the head of her security Max Lea. While various members of Lovato's team were attempting to revive her, Jackson recalls that she snuck away to call 911 because "I didn't want to get in trouble for calling 911." She recounted watching the paramedics trying to revive Lovato, noting that at one point Lovato "turned blue, like her whole body . . . I was like, 'She's dead, for sure.' It was the craziest thing I've ever seen." Had it not been for Jackson calling for the ambulance when she did, the singer likely would not have survived her overdose. "My doctors said that, like, I had five to 10 more minutes, and had my assistant not come in, I wouldn't be here today," Lovato said in the doc. Lea also stated how he was "quite impressed" with how Jackson handled the situation.
- Lovato was legally blind when she woke up from the overdose. "I was legally blind when I woke up, and my little sister [De La Garza] was at my bedside, and I was so blind I couldn't see who she was," Lovato recalled. "She just started sobbing because she thought from then on I wouldn't be able to see." The producer behind the camera noted it was a full-circle moment because Lovato's parents pushed her to get sober by threatening to keep her from seeing De La Garza, and then her overdose stopped her from seeing her literally. "It's really ironic and in a weird way poetic that it ended up happening like that," she said. "I think God has a twisted sense of humor sometimes."
- Lovato suffered brain damage from the overdose and is still affected to this day. Lovato's neurologist Dr. Shouri Lahiri revealed in the docuseries that the singer's oxygen levels were "dangerously low and trending down" when she got to the hospital, and the back of her brain and her vision were the first places to be affected from the overdose. "I don't think people realize how bad I actually was," Lovato said. "I had three strokes. I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can't drive anymore. I have blind spots in my vision. When I pour a glass of water, I'll miss the cup because I can't see it anymore. I've also had pneumonia because I asphyxiated, and multiple organ failures." She added, "I'm really lucky to be alive."
- Lovato revealed that she was sexually assaulted the night of her overdose. "What people don't realize about that night for me is that I didn't just overdose, I also was taken advantage of," Lovato stated. The singer alleged that her drug dealer "took advantage" and "violated" her after getting her high with the fentanyl-laced heroin he supplied her. "When they found me, I was naked, I was blue, I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me," she said. "And when I woke up in the hospital, they asked if I had had consensual sex. And there was one flash that I had of him on top of me, I saw that flash and I said yes." It wasn't until a month later that Lovato realized she wasn't in "any state of mind to make a consensual decision." But the singer explained that kind of trauma "doesn't go away overnight and it doesn't go away in the first few months of rehab either."
- Lovato relapsed after her 2018 overdose. Lovato revealed that her overdose wasn't the last time she took heroin. She relapsed after her overdose, calling the drug dealer from that night because she wanted to "rewrite his choice of violating" her. "I wanted it now to be my choice and he also had something that I wanted, which were drugs," she explained. "I called him back and I said, 'No, I'm going to f*ck you.' It didn't fix anything, it didn't take anything away. It just made me feel worse, but that, for some reason, was my way of taking the power back. All it did was bring me back to my knees begging God for help."
- Lovato revealed she was also assaulted as a teenager. Lovato explained that her decision to have sex with her drug dealer after her assault was not the first time she's tried to take control back. "When I was a teenager, I was in a very similar situation. I lost my virginity in rape," she alleged. "I called that person back a month later and tried to make it right by being in control. All it did was make me feel worse." She realized those reactions were "textbook trauma reenactments," noting that her first experience with sexual violence is what caused her to have trouble coming to terms with her second. "I internalized it and I told myself it was my fault because I still went in the room with him, I still hooked up with him," she recalled, citing pressure from the picture-perfect public image of the Disney crowd as what kept her silent. "F*ck it, my #MeToo story is me telling somebody that someone did this to me and they never got in trouble for it," she alleged. "But I've just kept it quiet because I've always had something to say, and I don't know, I'm tired of opening my mouth. So there's the tea." Lovato also revealed that when she did share what happened with adults, her alleged attacker never faced consequences and "never got taken out of the movie they were in."
- Lovato also began relapsing with her eating disorder in 2018. Lovato revealed that she began overexercising and extreme dieting, as her former management team policed her food intake to the point of demanding that her friends and family guard her meals. Lovato shared that it took three years to feel as if she has "found balance" when it comes to her eating disorder, although she knows she will never be cured of it. "The voice has gotten so quiet that it no longer rules my life and I no longer feel like I'm in a prison," she said. In August 2020, she celebrated both her 28th birthday and a major milestone in her recovery, with three cakes after having watermelon "cakes" for eight consecutive years.
- Lovato is no longer sober, and drinks and smokes weed in moderation. In the final episode of the series, Lovato revealed that "after so many years of being the poster child of sobriety," she is no longer sober. She stated that she's confident that she will never touch heroin again after realizing that the high she wants could kill her, but doesn't believe being completely sober will help her in the long run. "I've learned that shutting the doors on things makes me want to open the door even more," she explained. "I've learned that it doesn't work for me to say, 'I'm never going to do this again. I've really, really struggled with this." She added that she uses alcohol and marijuana in supervised moderation, keeping in contact with her case manager, therapist, and friends to have everyone be aware of her state of mind. "Telling myself that I can never have a drink or smoke marijuana, like, I feel like that's setting myself up for failure because I am such a black and white thinker," she added. But she didn't want other addicts to break their sobriety to try the same method, noting, "Recovery isn't a one-size-fits-all solution."
- Lovato came out as queer, saying she's "too queer" to marry a man. After her brief engagement to actor Max Ehrich — which Lovato explained she ended when she realized she didn't really know him — the singer said she wants to explore and embrace her sexuality. "I'm not willing to put a label on it right this second and I think I will get there," she said. "But there are a lot of things I have to do for myself first. I want to allow myself the ability to live my life in the most authentic form possible, which I just haven't done because of my past and some things that I've needed to work on."
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil premiered virtually at the SXSW Film Festival on March 16. The first two episodes of the docuseries will premiere on YouTube for free on Tuesday, March 23, with new episodes released weekly over the following two Tuesdays.